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The Benefits of Fish Oil

There is so much around us that can make us healthy, all of it natural, all we have to do is look for it. One thing that is highly beneficial for our bodies is fish oil, and many feel that it can actually help fight something as terrible as cancer itself.

What is it?

Essentially, fish oil is an oil that is derived from the fatty tissue of some oily fish. It contains two major omega-3 fatty acids that are critical to health and have been known to help the body in a number of ways, including helping to reduce inflammation. Interestingly enough, omega-3 fatty acids are not produced naturally by fish but they accumulate them by eating microalgae or other fish. This accumulates the omega-3 fatty acids in their bodies. This means that the predator fish at the top of the food chain, like sharks, swordfish and tuna, have the most omega-3 fatty acids. The problem is that they also take on toxic substances as well through bio-magnification.

Why take it?

The simple answer is that it is very good for your health. Fish oil has been studied extensively and been shown to help with a variety of ailments, including but not limited to:

  • Cancer: Several studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can help prevent breast, colon and prostate cancer. In a study done of 35,000 middle aged women, it was found that the women who took the supplement were 32 per cent less likely to develop breast cancer. It has also been seen to reduce prostate cancer growth, and increase the survival rate in genetically-altered mice.
  • Cardiovascular: The American Heart Association itself recommends that you take one gram of fish oil per day. There are three conditions, according to the US National Institutes of Health, that can be dealt with through fish oil supplements. These are hypertriglyceridemia, preventing secondary cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.
  • Mental Health: In studies conducted in 2004 and 2009, it was found that fish oil can reduce the risk of depression, and suicide. One study compared the blood samples of individuals who had attempted suicide and found that the levels of Eicosapentaenoic acid was lower in the washed red blood cells of those who had attempted suicide when compared to those of the control group. In England, prisoners were fed foods high in fatty acids and it was found that the group who had more fatty acids also had a lower rate of assaults. It also helped to reduce aggression in school children and young adults. Several other studies found that omega-3 fatty acids and fish oils helped to reduce problems with bipolar disorder and other mental issues.
  • Alzheimer’s: In a study done by Louisiana State University, it was discovered that omega-3 fatty acid in fish oil could prevent cognitive problems related to Alzheimer’s.
  • Lupus: In a study in Northern Ireland, researchers monitored Lupus disease activity and found that it was reduced in patients who took fish oil supplements over the course of 12 to 24 weeks.
  • Parkinson’s Disease: One study found that taking of fish oils helped to create a protective effect from the disease in mice.

Amazingly, it can also help protect you from air pollution as well. According to a 2012 study, 29 healthy adults were given three grams of fish oil or a placebo for four weeks and exposed to unclean air for two hours. Researchers found that those who took the fish oil didn’t have the same negative result as those who did not take fish oil. It is believed that fish oil helps protect against the adverse cardiac and lipid effects that are associated with air pollution.

It can also help improve brain power. During a study, it was found that those who took fish oil supplements had better cognitive functioning than those who did not. It helped to boost the memory and thinking parts of the brain as well.

Side Effects

Fish oil is safe for most people but for anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding, it is best to avoid it for that time. If you need to take it, then it is best to take it in low doses of no more than three grams per day. High doses of fish oil for most people can reduce the activity of the immune system, hurting the ability to fight infection. Fish oil can also cause bad breath, heartburn, nosebleeds and rashes.

Overall, the side effects are far outweighed by the benefits.